By Bianca Caputo, WomanACT Social Media Team
As you may have read in our previous blog, Bill 157 (an amended version of Bill 148) pushed for:
On Friday, November 7th, The Toronto Star reported that victims of domestic violence will soon be allowed 5 days of paid leave and a further 15 weeks of unpaid leave as part of a revamp of provincial labour legislation.
Peggy Sattler, Ontario NDP critic for Women’s Issues, Education, and Skills Development says, "New Democrats will continue to call for mandatory workplace training on domestic violence and sexual violence, to ensure that survivors feel comfortable accessing leave and to raise awareness of the impact of violence and the warning signs that a co-worker may be experiencing abuse".
This is an incredible accomplishment and a huge step in the right direction. WomanACT would like to thank Peggy Sattler and Andrea Horwath for proposing these bills and strongly advocating for those affected by DV/SV - we will always support your amazing work for the VAW sector.
Click here to read the full Toronto Star news article!
By Bianca Caputo, WomanACT Social Media Team
Women's Health in Women's Hands Community Health Centre
November 15th from 12-2pm
If you are interested in participating in this study and would like more information, contact the research coordinator by email: Click here to send an email.
By Bianca Caputo, WomanACT Social Media Team
Harmy Mendoza, Executive Director of WomanACT, is showing her support for Bill 157 (amendments to Bill 148) at a press conference on Thursday, September 28th at Queen’s Park.
A year ago, Bill 26 was brought forth by Peggy Sattler, Ontario NDP critic for Women’s Issues, Education, and Skills Development. This bill pushed for:
Bill 26 was supported and passed unanimously by the three parties, yet referred to Committee, where it has remained with no further action.
Building on Bill 26, amendments to Bill 148, currently introduced in Bill 157 are specifically addressing the following:
Theresa Vince, Lori Dupont, Ravinder Kaur Bhangu, Camille Runke: all murdered at their workplaces by their partners… the list goes on. Domestic homicides or murder by an intimate partner represents 17% of all solved homicides in Canada and 47% of all family homicides.
“How many more victims will be added to the list? What do we need to do to ensure we, as a society, are able to protect those who need it the most? What do we need to do to be considered a priority?”
Harmy Mendoza, Executive Director of WomanACT, fully support amendments proposed to Bill 148 and hope these amendments can eventually become law.
Click here to read Bill 148.
By Bianca Caputo, WomanACT Social Media Team
In October 2016, Status of Women Canada invited organizations to propose projects that advance gender equity across Canada. Through this call for proposals, the aim was to identify a total of 150 women leaders in various sectors, organizations, and communities across the country to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.
Overall, as of June 2017, about 50 projects were approved for funding with over $18 million in Funding to Advance Gender Equality.
On August 16, 2017, the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Status of Women Canada, announced funding to nine organizations across the Toronto region, including WomanACT, as part of this call for proposals. All projects will address systemic barriers over a 36-month period through three components: (1) increasing women’s economic security and propserity; (2) encouraging women and girls to be better represented in leadership and decision-making roles; and (3) ending violence against women and girls.
The nine organizations from the Toronto region that received over $3.2 million in funding include:
WomanACT’s 36-month project will prevent recurring violence against women by focusing on barriers that prevent women from accessing services, social benefits and safety measures when exiting emergency shelters. A gender analysis of the impact of policies related to social security, landed immigration status, child custody, affordable housing, and post-secondary education grants will be completed by working with stakeholders from community networks. This analysis will inform the development of an action plan to advance solutions to maximize safety and opportunities for women rebuilding violence free lives. The organization will host policy dialogues with municipal, provincial, and federal subject matter experts, strengthening longer term partnerships for systemic change. Recommendations and final project outcomes will be shared widely with partners, stakeholders and elected officials through ongoing dialogue.
Harmy Mendoza, Executive Director of WomanACT, expresses that, “Leaving an abusive relationship can be a difficult and dangerous transition. This project will analyze the impact of policies in place to assist survivors of violence in rebuilding their lives. By working with our partners in the community and supporting policy dialogues, the project will strengthen longer term partnerships for systemic change. We will broadly share our knowledge and support the implementation of suggested recommendations.”
All organizations that were granted funding to advance gender equality will aid in developing a stronger, more effective, and united women’s movement in Canada. WomanACT is extremely excited to begin its 3 year project in September and take action in implementing support in gender equality across Canada.
For more details regarding the funding for all nine Toronto organizations, see the Status of Women Canada news release. Also, if you’re interested in viewing the details of the original call for funding to advance gender equality in Canada, click here.
See Status of Women Canada for additional funded projects across the country!
For more information about this project please contact our Project Manager, Lieran Docherty
“Everyone, including boys and men, must be part of the solution to end gender-based violence. All people living in Canada deserve the same opportunity to thrive and succeed, no matter their sex, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnic background.”
- The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women
1. Status of Women Canada. (2016, December). Funding to advance gender equality in Canada - Call for proposals - Status of Women Canada. Retrieved from http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/fun-fin/cfp-adp/2016-2/theme-en.html
2. Government of Canada, & Status of Women Canada. (2017, August 16). Backgrounder: Toronto - New funding will help support a vibrant gender equality movement across Canada. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/status-women/news/2017/08/backgrounder_toronto-newfundingwillhelpsupportavibrantgenderequa.html
The Future of Mandatory Charging for Intimate Partner Violence: Status quo or alternative direction?
WomanACT, as a member of the Building a Bigger Wave Ontario Network, is proud to support and participate in the research project: “The Future of Mandatory Charging for Intimate Partner Violence: Status quo or alternative direction?”
Building a Bigger Wave Ontario Network (BBWON) has undertaken a research project exploring the impacts of mandatory charging policies on women who experience abuse and their families. The project is being funded jointly by VAW Coordinating Committees (VAWCCs) and Mitacs, a research foundation that supports connections between universities and communities. Building a Bigger Wave provides the coordination for VAWCC committees.
This four-month project will create an Ontario-specific research instrument to survey victim/survivors, service providers (e.g. shelters) and police. The surveys have been designed to investigate the impact of mandatory charging on victim/survivors.
This project is the first step for criminal justice system institutions (e.g. police, Crown Attorneys) and community-based organizations in developing more effective responses to domestic violence and reducing associated costs.
A virtual presentation of the project’s initial findings will be facilitated by Deborah E. Conners, Ph.D., University of Ottawa, during the upcoming WomanACT General Members Meeting scheduled to take place on June 29th,2017.
WomanACT is a proud member of the BBWON
The Building a Bigger Wave Ontario Network (BBWON) is a feminist-based, volunteer network of passionate professionals and advocates who believe it is vital to strengthen existing multi-sector tables known as Violence Against Women Coordinating Committees (VAWCCs). VAWCCS are existing infrastructure with experience and expertise that can propel social innovation and change. In Ontario, the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) funds 48 local committees across the province. As such, VAWCCs can be critical elements of a larger strategy to engage everyone in the province of Ontario to end violence against women and children. The BBWON leadership believes that ending sexual and domestic violence in all its forms is a shared responsibility.
VAWCCs are comprised of committed professionals and advocates who meet regularly to do the heavy lifting on figuring out how to work together more effectively in local communities on domestic and sexual violence cases and related issues. The BBWON is a virtual place for communication and connection for individuals, VAWCCs, and other allies. We are committed to ongoing learning and shared leadership to achieve collective impact on this most complex and destructive global epidemic. BBWON is only one piece of a much larger picture of people working together to create a peaceful and just world.
BBWON is an emergent and evolving network.
BBWON currently has three coordinators who manage overall network activities and projects. Project funding supports their involvement, but most of the work is done on a volunteer basis. This allows BBWON to function according to the priorities identified by the network.
For more information about the work of the BBWON, please visit their web page:
By Gabrielle Provencher, Social Media Volunteer at WomanACT
The Poverty Reduction Strategy Office of Toronto is now accepting applications from individuals who have lived experience with poverty to join the Lived Experience Advisory Group (LEAG).
Understanding that poverty affects people differently, this is an open call to everyone who can inform the implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy based on their firsthand experience with poverty.
The LEAG is a two year term beginning January 2017 and will include a two day orientation session, a two day training, monthly meetings and attendance and/or participation in local community meetings and activities.
All participants will be provided a two day orientation, training and skills development opportunities, recognition, TTC fare, child care and food, honorarium of $50/meeting and $100/full day activities, attendant care (upon request) as well as other activities as identified.
Please note that only residents of Toronto can apply and the deadline to submit the application form is December 3rd 2016.
If you or someone you know is interested, please follow the steps below to submit your application.
For more information on the Poverty Reduction Strategy and the Lived Experience Advisory Group please visit www.toronto.ca/toprosperity
TO SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION
For more information contact
Poverty Reduction Strategy Office
Click here to contact by email
By Paula Wells, Social Media Coordinator at WomanACT
This week our Executive Director, Harmy Mendoza had the opportunity to discuss the importance of Bill 26 (formerly known as Bill 177), The Domestic and Sexual Violence Workplace Leave and Training Accommodation Act. The bill was introduced by NDP Women’s Issues Critic Peggy Sattler, MPP London West and endorsed by many organizations including WomanACT. It unanimously passed legislature last March and due to Premier Kathleen Wynne proroguing the legislature in September, it had to be reintroduced and the entire legislative process had to start again.
Alejandro Gonzalez, Resource Development Manager at MCIS Language Services and Dr. Christopher Mackie, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at Middlesex London Health Unit were also on the panel to share their perspectives.
The bill provides survivors of sexual or domestic violence with up to 10 days of paid leave to deal with the harm they experienced (visit a doctor, seek counselling or legal support) without risk of losing their employment.
Peggy shared research from a 2014 National Study "Can work be safe when home isn't" based on a survey of 8400+ employees. "What was particularly striking about the findings was that the violence did not only affect the victims, it also affected their co-workers. For 30% of the co-workers, the stress and concern that they felt because of their awareness of what their colleague was going through had a negative impact on their own performance on the job".
By Bianca Caputo, Social Media Placement Student at WomanACT
On February 24th, 2016, Harmy Mendoza, Executive Director of WomanACT, requested a deputation be placed on the Board’s meeting records. The deputation was in support of City Council’s recommendation that the Toronto Police Service Board review policies related to responding to intimate partner violence, mandatory charging policy, enforcement of no-contact orders, and probation conditions. Harmy gave a valuable and articulate explanation of issues relating to these policies and enlisted many requests that if pursued, will ensure greater protection of women, children and families.
Harmy noted that the role of the police is critical in domestic violence cases and although very thankful for the work that the Toronto Police have done to address these cases, she points out that several policies currently in place have unintended consequences that are concerning. As an example, the Pro-Charging Policy was intended to increase reporting, laying of charges, and reduce re-offending, however, concerns have been raised about the consequences that women face where they have been arrested and charged either alone or with their partner when acting in self-defense or trying to protect themselves or their children from abuse. Some of the unintended effects of the policy that Harmy highlighted were:
“...when I walked in the apartment, he was physically pushing me away, and I was trying to grab the phone... while he was pushing me, I grabbed the phone and I hit him with the phone, which is my ‘assault with a weapon’. I tried to run from him, and he grabbed, and got me on the ground, and smashed my head onto the ground...”
“He started hitting me, throwing me on the floor. I grabbed the empty bottle and hit him on the side of his head.”
Reports have reviewed spousal abuse policies and legislation and points to the fact that police are not able to use discretion in IPV cases and have lack of sufficient training in these circumstances. Dual and sole charging of women who are victims is occurring at an increased frequency despite the adoption of the dominant aggressor model of investigation. Due to the serious and increasing impact of dual and sole charging, Harmy notes her request that the Toronto Police Service assess the implementation of the dominant aggressor model of investigation to determine what is leading to these outcomes.
In addition, Harmy requested that the Toronto Police Service make clear data publicly available on the outcome of domestic violence cases such as the number of charges laid, the number of cases in which both partners were charged, the number of males and females charged as dominant aggressors, etc. She called for action on better understanding of police charging patterns within domestic violence incidents and factors affecting such situations. With understanding comes the need for improved data and police-reported incidents that is currently limited in terms of quality information.
Overall, Harmy put forth an effective deputation that outlines the issue at hand, the effects of the problem, and multiple requests on her behalf that will assist in ensuring women, children, and families that their safety is our priority. By engaging in this deputation, Harmy supports that there is a high degree of importance on examining how the policies are actually understood and applied in the Toronto region by police that needs to be recognized by the Toronto Police Services Board.
Hopefully by now you are familiar with the Policies Matter Project, a collaborative research and examination initiative undertaken by WomanACT, the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic and Elizabeth Fry Toronto. After almost three years of collecting, summarizing and analyzing federal, provincial and municipal legislation and policy through a gender-based lens, we are pleased to present to you the product of these efforts: a new and innovative web based tool "A Blueprint for Action on Policies Affecting Women who Experience Violence”. This site is intended to share project findings, enhance communication and collaborative action among VAW allies in Toronto and support other organizations to carry out gender informed policy work. The database is accessible to all (no username or password required) through WomanACT’s website here: Policies Matter
The Blueprint for Action was developed in response to feedback collected from stakeholders. We hope this tool will be used to convene the VAW sector around policy issues in order to advance policy advocacy priorities. It was also designed to:
What will you find on this site? Well, there are several distinct sections that one can easily navigate. The first for example, located under the heading “Report”, allows users to download a full (or summary) PDF copy of the key activities and outcomes of the Policies Matter Project. This report summarizes the groundwork laid by earlier reports and refocuses on the policy intersections that inadvertently put women who experience violence at increased risk, while also proposing a framework for assessing the determinants of women’s safety. The second heading “Documents” includes additional PDF files that highlight supplementary products and findings resulting from the Policies Matter Project (i.e. evaluation methodology, pilot projects information and policy impacts relative to the dimensions of safety).
One of the most original components of this web tool can be found under the “Intersections” division in which online visitors can interact with the site by clicking on identified intersections to see related policies or clicking on policies to access a more detailed description. For example, a user may choose to click on the “income security” title. A box will then appear describing some key determinants in income security. After several clicks, this interactive component creates a visual map that exemplifies the complexities women face when fleeing from violence or surviving abuse. Finally, the “Initiatives” link allows organizations to look up community initiatives that address negative policy impacts that are currently underway and in turn hopefully encourage agencies to contact one another and utilize limited resources to enable cohesive solutions and more effective service delivery.
Enough with all the introductions though, it is your turn to play around and get familiar with the site! We encourage you all—service providers, frontline workers, community leaders, activists, students and policy makers, to explore and use this resource in ways that will hopefully enhance your work and understanding of the issues we all face in the VAW sector.
We welcome your feedback and invite you to engage in the Blueprint For Actions ongoing development. Please contact WomanACT by email or phone at 416-944-9242.
March 7, 2014: Policies Matter Community Forum
March 7th marked the final day of the “End Violence Against Women Week in Toronto” hosted by the Woman Abuse Council of Toronto. After an informative and enjoyable week of training, connecting and panel discussions, members from 30 organizations were brought together in a more intimate setting to discuss and evaluate the Policies Matters Project, which has come a long way since its original beginnings in 2011. Funded by the Status of Women Canada, WomanACT partnered with the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic and Elizabeth Fry Toronto to carry out a gender-based analysis of the impacts policies and systems have on women’s safety. This was a massive endeavor; yet key leaders of these agencies have worked diligently to research and identify various policy intersections that in many ways create barriers for women fleeing violence. We have now used this information to create a visual display of what these intersections look like as a starting point for change and improvement.
During the forum, contributors such as Amanda Dale, Executive Director of the Barbra Schlifer Clinic, emphasized the importance that has been placed on ensuring that this project is an inclusive undertaking that values the experiences of service providers and women surviving abuse. WomanACT’s Women’s Voices For Action Committee, made up of women who have lived experience, have been encouraged to provide their feedback and describe the difficulties and endless web of services that they had to navigate when fleeing violent situations. In addition, on May 16, 2013, the first Policies Matter Project Community Forum (previously known as the “Blueprint For Action”) was held which brought together more than 50 representatives from diverse organizations that address VAW. During this meeting, attendants identified policy priorities, discussed community initiatives and developed collective action plans for priority areas. Key determinants of safety such as income security, adequate housing, access to legal aid and employment security were debated and we left with an even more in-depth understanding of where needs were not being met and the most crucial areas to focus on in the VAW sector.
With valuable insight, a collection of personal narratives and community feedback, the Policies Matters Project set out to map the overwhelming picture of policy intersections as well as develop a web based tool that consolidated, in one place, information about policies, policy impacts and public policy initiatives being undertaken to improve safety for women who experience violence. During this most recent forum, speakers talked about celebrating the progress that has been made while project leaders have deepened their working relationships. Two collaborative pilot projects have been initiated for example, where agencies are now collaborating to better assist refugee women in detention, and women experiencing mental health and addiction issues. This activity has thus begun a conversion that is bringing the VAW sector service providers together, such as various shelters and clinics, which would otherwise not have the time to connect and reflect on their cumulative impact.
A significant part of the forum was then dedicated to inviting attendees to review and operate the Policies Matterweb tool. We value the group comments and hope to use their evaluations, praises and concerns to inform our next stage of development. We believe that moving into a more visual and technological world is essential for members of the VAW sector and are determined to come together and build a cohesive picture of ourselves as advocates for change. Overall, the feedback was positive as many stakeholders expressed a strong interest inusing the tool to communicate the complex and harmful impact of policy intersections on women to funders and decision makers. The day finished with a solid, rigorous debate in which policy advocacy priorities were deliberated. Affordable childcare, tight Provincial budgets, gun laws and registry, immigration status legislation and the crucial need to stay connected among VAW agencies to most adequately utilize limited resources were all topics under discussion. We massively thank all of those involved in this incredible day and as we move forward sincerely hope to continue to work together on advancing policy initiatives and advocacy strategies.
For a more detailed description of the history and evolution of the Policies Matter Project, please review the Fact Sheet which can be found on this link: http://www.womanactsendviolenceagainstwomenweek.com/policies-matter-forum.html
WomanACT Newsletter Archives